Easter and UUism

April 4, 2015 at 2:49 am 2 comments

One holiday that I’ve often wondered “How does that work in a UU context?” is Easter. I mean, at Christmas time we can talk about the birth of Jesus, and winter solstice traditions and such, and yes there are pagany springy trappings that go with Easter. But it seems much more unavoidably, traditionally theologically Christian, focused on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus,

I was told that one traditional Unitarian view of Easter was a focus on the “resurrection of community”.I guess in a seasonal context that could make sense, since in winter people tend to be more isolated and keep to themselves, while we come out and see our neighbors as spring rolls around. However, this was a theological idea from presumably a much warmer place, so my own interpretation wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense!

On this post here, it’s discussed that in some places, particular the southwestern U.S. Easter is combined with Flower Communion at U.U. churches. “Flower Communion was a ritual developed by Norbert Čapek as a ritual specifically for Unitarians.  He chose to celebrate the diversity of humanity through flowers as no two flowers are exactly alike.  The first Flower communion was held in June of 1923 in Prague just before the summer holidays. According to his wife, Maja Čapek, the ritual was to be more secular in its associations so as to be the most inclusive of all people, regardless of creed.   An important aspect that would grow over time as their neighboring country of Germany grew in power and intolerance of Jews and those of political differences grew deeper.  She stated in a letter[1] that conflating it with Easter would probably not have met Norbert’s approval and an alternative date to June could be to commemorate the last Sunday that he preached which was March 23 before being arrested and subsequently killed by the Nazis in Dachau concentration camp.  These meanings of diversity and acceptance found in the Flower Communion have nothing to do with Easter. I believe the two should be kept separate so that the fullness of each message can be contemplated.”

I completely agree that the two should be separate! Spring Equinox of course, may be celebrated in addition to Easter by U.U. Pagans and earthy humanists- Nowruz, the Persian New Year is also celebrated on the same day. Personally I find the themes of Passover- liberation from slavery and oppression- to be more relevant than Easter. And indeed I do celebrate Passover if one of my Jewish friends invites me to do so. But otherwise, it is not really my holiday. A couple years ago I went to Minicon, a science fiction convention that is held in the Twin Cities during Easter weekend. One of the coolest people I met there was an older Jewish lady from New York. She shared with me, an anecdote- a conversation she had with African-American friends. She told them- you folks need your own Passover! Once again, such a holiday wouldn’t be mine to create or celebrate. A while ago while celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and watching all the inaccurate memes posted by my fellow Pagans, I thought about how disconnected St Pat’s is from actual Irish history. It seems like we celebrate Irishness in this rather shallow way without really contemplating what our ancestors (spiritual or physical) went through to get to this country. So maybe we also need an Irish-American equivalent of Passover. There are also various historical events we could be commemorating, such as the Easter Rising. Once again, I feel pretty darn ignorant about Irish history!

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Entry filed under: Holidays, Rambling Posts, Unitarian Universalism. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Léithin Cluan  |  April 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I would LOVE to see a festival commemorating the Easter Rising. For me, Easter always *has* been about breaking the bonds of liberation, and both Passover (which i celebrate with my Jewish partner) and the Easter Rising have significance to me there. Hmm, something to ponder in my personal calendar of this time of year.

    Reply
  • 2. caelesti  |  December 1, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I just noticed your comment! Or maybe re-noticed. Anyway, just wanted to note that the Minnesota Irish Fair is going to be having a week-long arts celebration in April centering around the Easter Rising anniversary. http://www.irishfair.com/ I will be plugging it at my Paganicon presentation on Irish history. I am starting to talk to Irish Pagans about it- as in from Ireland, or a generation removed from Ireland, so yes you “count”. I want to get input, as the goal of this is to create better relations between American Pagans and Irish communities both in the diaspora and Ireland. I have connected with one person via Tumblr so far.

    Reply

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